A few blogs ago I revealed my grand idea for the The Little Shed that Could…be a Seedery, Hatchery, Broodery, Wormery, Mushroomery, and Fermentarium. Today I got to work on that project.
It turns out that “little” shed is actually a pretty big shed. It just seemed deceptively small because it was so full of stuff we weren’t sure what else to do with. Once I dragged fifteen (5) gallon buckets, two complete Langstroth bee hives with extra supers, several trash cans and drums of livestock feed, leftover fencing supplies, two neglected cafe-style coffee bean dispensers, five animal carriers, hundreds of saved livestock feed bags, and more from the shed, I discovered it could actually address even more needs than what I originally planned.
But first I had to deal with hundreds of brown marmorated stink bugs that were overwintering in every possible crevice of every item in the shed. If you aren’t familiar with those little guys, they look like tiny shields and smell like cilantro if you accidentally kill them. They also make great free chicken food! So, I painstakingly collected most of them to take to my hens as a well-deserved treat now that they are starting to lay regularly again (as days lengthen). Some people have said the bugs make eggs smell and taste funny, but so far it hasn’t bothered me. We’ll see tomorrow though…this was the mother lode of stink bugs!
When I got sick of collecting stink bugs, I brought Buffy, my garden helper, over to the shed and swept the rest of the bugs outside for her to find. She spent most of the day picking through the area and clucking happily every few minutes when she snagged a tasty morsel.
With the shed emptied and cleaned up, I stole a sheet of plywood from a makeshift pig shelter (for pigs that have since passed on), to use as my brooder floor. I had to carry it quite a distance from pasture to the shed by our house. And felt entitled to a cookie after that hard work. Thank goodness I had a sugar rush, because finagling plywood inside that space turned out to be a lot more challenging than I expected.
Matt’s the math guy and the heavy lifter in our relationship, but he still has a day job. Without his help to rely on, I had to exercise a little ingenuity to get the plywood floor down over the existing floor boards and under some shelving that was loosely built in. The original floor is hardwood, but it has quarter inch gaps between each plank, so it’s not the best for creating a worm and chick warm spot. It took me a while, but I finally worked it all out with the help of a reciprocating saw.
The exterior of the shed is board-and-batten, but the corners were unbattened (probably for aesthetic reasons) which left a lot of room for drafts. I cut some scrap wood to size and stuck it up inside the corners of the house to cut down the drafts. Then, I used all those polyethylene feed bags I’d been collecting in the shed as a cheap tyvek replacement. Since the exterior is already in place, I used the bags inside the space.
I want to keep the shed warm, but I don’t want to close it up too tightly and trap mold inside. So I used the cheaper feed bags that did not have a wax or plastic coating to make them water proof. They should still “breath” a bit, but won’t let in direct drafts. They are also kind of farm chic, so I liked the way they looked when I got them stapled into place. Those stink bugs I mentioned also invaded the staple box, and so I accidentally stuffed one into the stapler. It jammed and smelled like cilantro. Luckily I had a back-up stapler handy.
I framed out three sides of the brooder box and stuffed blankets I originally planned to donate into the spaces between the box and the feedbag tyvek walls. It saved me from having to buy anything right now. The blankets will probably hold up a while since they are polyester. But I’ll leave myself an easy way in to replace them with real insulation a couple years from now if this all works as well as I think it will.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my end of day progress. So, I’ll leave you instead with my feed bag floor collage. Isn’t it beautiful?
Also, I’d been worried about how I would get the worm casting juices to drain when I first started planning this concept. I had finally settled on slightly elevating one side of the plywood floor so it sloped for drainage. But, when I stood inside the cleaned shed, I could tell it had a slope already. I did a quick water test and found it drained nicely toward the back of the shed. So, now I just have to put in a few drainage holes and a collection bucket to keep liquid from pooling in the worm bed.
Cleaning the shed and stapling up my homemade tyvek took up most of my time today. But there was also all the normal stuff – hanging with the goats, giving treats to our menagerie, taking care of my dad, and enjoying research breaks to advance the other projects coming up in my near future.
I would love the wormery, broodery, seedery portion of this project done tomorrow. But I have a Master Gardener meeting, and that usually results in lots and lots of garden talk with some of my favorite people and time away from the homestead.
We’ll see how much I actually get done…